Snow in May?!

Considering the first 4 months of 2010 have featured temperatures which have been above average, and we had the least snowiest March on record in Wausau, you would think the chances of snow are done of the season.  On the contrary it appears, as some unseasonably cool air will filter in on the backside of a storm system rolling our way for Friday into early Saturday.  Here are the ingredients that could lead to wet snow in our area.  First off, is the alignment of the jet stream, which will be digging a trough from the eastern Rockies into the western Great Lakes.  Next is the fact of the matter that chilly air is bottled up just to our northwest in southern Canada as highs in southern Manitoba and western Ontario on Thursday ranged from the upper 30s to mid 40s.  Third and most importantly is the track of low pressure coming out of the panhandle of Texas.

Usually you will hear us talking about storms in March taking a route from north Texas, cutting across the central plains and ending up stationed in western lower Michigan.  And as is the case this go around in May, we will not only be on the cold side of the storm, but with help of northerly winds, are expected to see a transition from rain showers over to wet snow later Friday into the nighttime hours.  The way everything stacks up, the potential exists that 1-3" of snow falling in Central Wisconsin, with amounts on range of 3-5" possible in the Northwoods.  Much of this will probably accumulate on grassy surfaces, rooftops and also on trees (which could cause some problems snapping branches or perhaps causing power outages).  However if the flakes do come down at a moderate to heavy clip in the Northwoods, it is possible that roadways could be snow covered and slick during the overnight hours, just prior to sunrise.  Granted we have had temperatures that have been mainly above freezing and the ground is totally thawed out, but that doesn't mean the snow couldn't accumulate.  Will you need to break out the shovel?  Odds are much of whatever falls is going to melt on Saturday, however if you really want to throw together one more snowman, you could probably pull it off.  In the wake of this storm, we then have a high likelihood of frost/freeze conditions Saturday night into Sunday morning as a clear sky with light wind leads to lows dipping into the 20s to lower 30s.

So there is the potential of some measurable snow, but you may be wondering when the last time the flakes did fly in May.  Checking the record books, the last trace of snowfall in Wausau was on May 12, 2006,  while the last time the ruler had to broken out was way back on May 5, 1996 when 1.3" of snow accumulated.  Last but not least, the record for most snow on May 7th is 2.5" in 1960, while May 8th the number to beat is 1.5" set in 1906.  Needless to say, it isn't out of the ordinary for snow in May.  However considering the buds on the trees are blooming and spring has been in the air, this may come as a shock to some.

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